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  CBS    Mosaic    Series/Special.  (CC)  

    October 14, 2012
    5:00 - 5:30am PDT  

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. >> good morning. mosaic. a special program for us. the bay area has a lot of talented people. we are delighted to bring you dr. snyder the professor of biblical studies and spirituality. and a sister of the sisters servants of the immaculate heart of mary. did i say that close? okay. thank you. welcome. welcome. in short, dr. snyder is a professor and a nun and lives in bay area. lives in alameda. she's here to chat with us and it's truly a pleasure.
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thank you for taking time here. let's begin with -- let's begin with you. you you grew up in michigan. born in chicago. cub or white sox fans i should ask. either one. at some point you decided to enter into the religious life. tell us about that decision and tell us about entering with the sisters. >> well, in catholic lingo the experience is a call. much like a call to ministry. or a call to be an artist. one is being invited to do something with one's life. and in this case, i suppose you could call it a special invitation of religion but a desire to spend one's life growing in union with god and
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serving god's people. >> so this calling took you but then when went on an academic track. >> i belong to a congregation that traditionally have been educators. there was a time when we were teaching grade school, high school, a few people in college. but i, as it were came of age right at the end of vatican two and one of the things that we realized was we needed sisters prepared theologically to think about our own life as well as to teach. so i was sent to study theology. and as we say the rest of history. i've been doing it ever since. but all of us are educated, if you want to put it in term of
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of academics for whatever we want to do. we're not all teachers in the sense of being in the classroom somewhere. although a fair number of us are. so we're all engaged in preaching the gospel, most of us through some form of helping other people to come to understand the faith and practices and live it better. so it might bun usual that i'm teaching at the graduate level in theology. but the teaching part of it the academic part of it is not. >> it's been there. how many sisters if your order. >> about 400. how many nuns are there in the united states? >> that's very hard. you so take attendance
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everyday. but we estimate about 58,000. something in that area. >> 58,000. and one of the things that we're here to -- dr. snider is going to help us with is there are conversations and images of sisters of nuns how have we seen them? what are the roles today? and internationally what are the questions they're engaged in within the catholic church. stay with us. we'll be right back. ,,,,
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. >> dr. sandra snyder of the jesuit school in berkeley. a joy to have you. we're going to talk in this segment about religious life. the religious life really goes back to the first century. let's skip the first 17 centuries of that and take us to western europe and what happens with immigration of into the united states and how that affects the sisters and the images that people have. >> all right. go back a little bit further than that. in the 1600s, 1700s. so the first time -- actually a little bit before that.
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the sisters who were nuns who were cloistered who entered their religious communities did not come out. did not have external ministries. okay. that was pretty much the type of religious life that you had in europe in the 1700s and so on. as the united states, or what became the united states, when it was discovered, it was largely populated, as we know by people coming first from england. so basically, protestants who were the first citizen ores the first dwellers in this country. and some sisters from these largely cloistered orders came to the united states to help
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evangelize as it were the people who -- the indigenous people who were here. but what happened from about 1830 until the middle of the 1900s was huge waves of immigration of as we know came into this country. and settled really all the way across the country from the eastern sea board all the way across. many of those new immigrants were from traditionally catholic countries so from france, and germany, and then eventually from eastern european countries like poland. and they settled in this country. what became the united states. but they were in a very, in many cases, unhospitable climate. a very protestant environment one of the things the sisters became very involved in because the church wanted them to be involved in it, was helping to preserve the faith of catholics
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in this country. and so what most people alive today can remember is kind of catholic ghettos. the catholic church, the catholic school and the sisters teaching in the school or nursing in a nearby hospital and basically the catholics having their whole life within their context. except for the work position. so they went to school with catholics. they grew one catholics. they married catholics. they had catholic children until they were buried in catholic cemeteries so that created a kind of culture of its own. a kind of ghetto culture. symbolically with the election of john of john: f kennedy.
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catholic children began going to school. you have intermarriage between catholics and protestants and racial intermarriage and so on. so that changed the role the sisters had rather drastically. >> the sisters in 1930 and coming on you were running hospitals and schools. >> social service, yeah. >> so you're always there being very helpful and all of this stuff. and now you're beginning to describe how this is changing. >> right. so we were -- for example, all ihm's my order would be living in a convent with other ihm's and dressed in our traditional attire. and we'd be very recognizable. travel in groups. in twos. we didn't travel much at all. we lived in the convent.
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taught in the school. and we took part in that cultural milieu of the catholic parish community type of thing. what happened with vatican two of course was the church changed its whole approach to culture. rather than trying to back off and protect ourselves from contamination by other religions, the culture, and so on, the council called the church to go into the culture. to go into the world to preach the gospel to everyone. so our focus instead of being this way became more this way. and that's when you begin to have many sisters doing things that most people don't associate with sisters. for example, most would not associate a sister with the kind of position that i hold being the only member of my community in california teaching in a graduate school. >> so what strikes me there is
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we, outside, have an image of what sisters and nuns are. and then they travel in blacks and whites around here. and then i think on the next segment we'll get into those internal changes from vatican two but there's also the outside view. i still remember ten years ago with presbyterian general assembly in milwaukee and i met this fellow a very nice fellow. and we went out to lunch together. and at the end of this lunch he said this is fascinating you're the first protestant i've sat to and talked to in my life. going back to the conclaves. what happens when the conclaves break down and for the sisters and nuns what's happening now, we'll be right back.
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. >> snyder is a professor at the jesuit school in berkeley and a sister, a nun in short. and we've been talking about you took us back to the middle 1800s and the catholic migrations here and how that impacted and put sisters into roles of teachers and so on and
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so on. and how we looked at that. and now with vatican two the changes that are coming out. so take us back to the early 60s. give us that snapshot of vatican two. and what happened inside the sister hood? >> vatican two, everybody has their take on what was the most important thing that happened in vatican two. i would say that the church turned toward the world. you had to take completely seriously god so loved the world. brought his only son so that one might believe. we need to take care of our people. which was never an official position but it was what we intended to do. we kept catholics catholics and we sought to it that they learned the right things and did the right things and so on. and protestants of course were problems basically.
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and jews we didn't have very much to do with at all. and many people have probably never heard of buddhist. so this movement towards engagement with the world, meaning all the people in the world. all the people god created and with problems in the world whether it was ecology, or politics, or economics or poverty, or whatever happens. war. that turn toward the world i think was the most significant change with vatican two. and that of course was going to introduce tremendous changes in religious life because almost the definition of religious life for a lot of people was to leave the world. people entered the convent. they left the world and they became cloistered and as much as possible they dealt with people. not people that were a threat to their religion. so in particular, women religious turned toward the
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world. things changed. most people probably saw we weren't living in groups of 15 or 20 in one house. trying not to meet anybody. we were dressed in a way that nobody could possibly mistake us for anything other. really quite quickly moved toward as one person said dressing likeearthh people. wearing contemplative clothes. instead of clothes from the 18th century. life within the convent changed. everybody wasn't going to school at 7:30 in the morning and coming back at 4:00 in the afternoon. people were doing more and more diverse things. so at this point, sisters were involved in everything politics, law, medicine, intercity work, work in prisons with delinquents with victims
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of torture. there isn't any kind of suffering or need in the world at this point that we would say no we don't do that. that's off limits. where we're needed is where we go. which means there's a great diversity among us. and therefore, in terms of our living, our style of living, and so on. so all of that initiated serious changes in religious life itself. which some people in the church, some lay people in the church thought was a loss of this kind of exotic holy, special, elite group of religious specialists who could basically do the praying for everybody else. so there were some people like that. we found out in the last year or so that an awful lot of people really appreciated what we had become.
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and -- >> let's fast forward a little bit. we were talking on the way over here about the inward reflection and questioning and going out into the world. christ transforming the world. now certainly you're out doing that. and one of the challenges or difficulties or surprises has been your work to go out into the world has not been fully embraced by some of the hierarchy of the church, is that accurate? >> yeah, i think that would be accurate. i think that would be. but some people in vatican will be much happier if we were still in our long habits and vales and living inside our cloisters dwellings and doing church work in catholic institutions under the guidance and control of the clergy. >> in 2012 this led to, you'll have to help me with the
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terminology a gathering, a convention of the women in religious life and there is some -- there are some specific issues in which they're sort of sharper -- or focused disagreements there. and you were part part of the is that right. >> no. i think you're referring to an annual meeting of the heads of religious orders. so -- not the 400 of us but the six people who lead religious community were at that meeting and the people who lead others of the 400 or more congregations in the united states. so the meeting was of nearly a thousand religious women who are leaders of respective congregations it was a little
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more dramatic year because one of the issues was that the vatican initiated a few years ago called the doctrinal assessment of the leadership conference. the quality of the leadership of their members and decided they were seriously wanting. and issued a mandate that they would be taken over. the leadership conference would be taken over for five years bay committee of bishops and of course that really was not acceptable if you will to sisters in general. but to the leadership conference as such. so one of the things they were discussing was how would they respond to that move on the part of the vatican. and that's kind of where we are now. that -- i'm not a member of the leadership conference because i'm not a leader of my congregation. i was there, i was invited because the leadership
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conference coniferred their annual award on me. so i was there as a guest. >> that focuses the question, what was the award. >> outstanding leadership award. which -- >> congratulations. we'll take a break and come back for our closing segment with sandra snyders. stay with us.
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. >> i'm learning here. leadership conference of women's religious. head of the various orders came together the vatican had interesting questions for those of us who are not catholic and trying to follow this, what are a couple things you would suggest we look for in the
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coming months. >> in the sense of? >> in the sense of if i want to follow the development of this and understand the issues how do we? >> well at the moment where this thing is is the president of the leadership conference, so that's the president t vice president, the executive secretary, they are dealing with this small group of bishops. >> who want to suspend their take over. >> there's a delegate of the vatican. so they're the committee appointed by the vatican to, as any people, i think it's correct to say to bring the sisters into line with what they think they're out of line on. >> we'll use the word review, how's that? >> so actually they're proceeding very -- with great reserve. what came out of the big assembly in august was that the
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big assembly, so that's the heads of the orders gave a charge to the leaders of the leadership conference. so that's the president, vice president, and so on. to deal with the bishops as long as it seemed like something productive could come of it. and as long as there would be no compromise of the integrity of the leadership conference and its mission. so there's the identity and the mission needed to be safeguarded. and that if, in fact, the whole business ground down without accomplishing anything then there'd be -- the leadership group would go back as it were to the drawing board and say, you know, not waste endless time with fruitless -- so nobody knows at this point whether or not progress has been made but periodically the
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leaders will make public statements to bring people up to -- and in the mean time those of us in the trenches are simply going ahead with our lives. knowing -- we're very convinced that the renewal that's taken place that religious life is spirit led. the holy spirit has guided us. we've done what the vatican council said we should do in terms of renewal. we've been faith to feel the life we've been called to lead. we feel that we're serving the people of god as well as we can. and the people of god seem to think that we are doing that. so we're not changing our tune as it were. we're not backing off from the renewal of our own life or the service of the ministry that we're giving to other people. the sisters have a strong commitment to justice, nonviolence, the protection of the weak, the oppressed and so
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on. so that's where you'll find us regardless of what goes on in high places. >> all of this unfolding in what i call church time. vatican two in the early 60s. we're still seeing this. what are you enjoying doing the most these days ? >> me personally? i'm working on a book on the resurrection of jesus. so it's a biblical, that's my field, it's a study of where scripture, particularly the resurrection there comes together spirituality so what's the realtime valence of the resurrection for the believer. >> publishing date's going to be when? >> i'd like it to be within the next year or two. it's a bigger project than i thought at the time. >> who's going to publish it.
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>> probably liturgical press but we'll see. >> so sandra snyder is a biblical professor of the jesuit school. one of the sisters of the sisters servants of the immaculate heart of mary. a delight to have you on. we'll be back next month. thanks.
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